4 Replies Latest reply on Jan 14, 2013 6:52 AM by ossaioputa

    Question about copyright protection and digital signatures.

    ossaioputa Level 1

      Hi,

       

      I'm a graphic designer who has designed a marketing concept that I want to propose to a company that I've never worked with before. This marketing concept is visual, and will be in print or digital form.

       

      There's no quesiton of me going phsyically to the company to show them my idea, so i'll need to email it them. The problem is that they could recieve the email and not bother replying, and then just copy the idea. Or receive it, reject it, and then come up with something different but based on my idea.

       

      Now, i know there're are legal limitations to how much i can protect a visual concept from having variations of it created. But still, I would like to know how i can use Acrobat's digital signature functions to, at least, be able to prove that ( maybe by some kind of time stamp) i was the first person to possess a physical or digital form of this idea.

       

      So if the company were to copy or produce a variation of my work, i would be able to say (if it went to court) "look at my version of the document that was created on such and such date. Also, look at the date when the company signed and opened the document i sent them. And compare this to any dates on their own documents."

       

      your advise will be much appreciated.

        • 1. Re: Question about copyright protection and digital signatures.
          Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          You're talking about copyright law - assuming you and your recipients are in the UK, there is no requirement to register a creative work to obtain protection. A "typographical arrangement" has innate copyright under Berne which has nothing to do with the actual content, so a page design using Lorem Ipsum cannot be replicated without permission even if the recipient changes all the text. Just stick ©2013 YourName on the file.

           

          The situation in the USA is different, and registration with the Library of Congress is necessary for full protection.

           

          If you're bothered that someone might claim prior art, there are many options for a UK creator to prove legacy - you can lodge a copy with a lawyer (printed or emailed, it doesn't matter as long as the receipt date can be documented by the lawyer), or you could use the Adobe EchoSign service to sign the PDF yourself. EchoSign can't attest to the identity of the signer but will apply a verifiable date to the returned document using Adobe's own digital ID. There's a free/trial account option, just send it to yourself and you'll get back a copy with Adobe's certificate applied.

           

          You can't use self-signed digital IDs inside Acrobat, as the date stamp of those can be altered by changing your computer clock. You can apply a guaranteed RFC 3161 timestamp to a certified PDF in Acrobat (e.g. in Acrobat XI use Sign > Work with Certificates > Time Stamp Document), but they require a subscription to a Time Stamp Authority (TSA) service. Google for suppliers, there are many but they charge a fee.

           

          There's absolutely no point getting the recipient to sign anything (unless it's an NDA, which is a separate topic entirely and has nothing to do with copyright).

          • 2. Re: Question about copyright protection and digital signatures.
            ossaioputa Level 1

            Thanks for the information, Dave. I've used Echosign. I was a bit pressed for the deadline to submit the proposal. So i did'nt have enough time to study Echosign's many features. So i just uploaded the document and had it sent to my brother's email account. I think when he signs it, then a copy will be sent back to me to sign. I really hope i've used the right one of Echosign's many features, because i want to send that document off today.

            • 3. Re: Question about copyright protection and digital signatures.
              Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              When your brother signs it you'll get an email notification and can download the signed PDF, which is certified with the EchoSign server's timestamp. That's all you need.